BY ANNA ORSO – BILLYPENN
Josh Glenn was just 16 when he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, charged as an adult and thrown in a Philadelphia jail cell. That’s where he sat for 18 months, unable to post the $2,000 bail that would have let him out of the city’s House of Correction.
Glenn’s case was ultimately dismissed and he was released, sent back into the world having spent a year-and-a-half on State Road. Today, Glenn is 29 and a criminal justice reform advocate in the city who’s fighting daily to change the system, starting with what he considers to be a broken cash bail apparatus that punishes the poor just for being poor.
“We’re holding folks in who haven’t gone to trial, and we’re treating them like they’re guilty already,” he said. “Cash bail, what it does is create more debt in poor and low-income houses … it just doesn’t work.”
For this activist, there was only one candidate for Philadelphia District Attorney when the primary rolled around last May: Larry Krasner.
Krasner, the Democratic nominee for Philadelphia district attorney and the favorite to win the November general election, branded himself as the outsider candidate — the criminal defense attorney who was going to come in as the city’s top prosecutor and turn the Office of the District Attorney upside down. In a field of seven candidates, Krasner won the primary and topped the second-place finisher by 18 points on a wave of progressive support, largely through vowing to never seek the death penalty, to address systematic mass incarceration and, yes, to reform the city’s cash bail system.
And though there’s already work being done on the inside of Philadelphia’s criminal justice system to reform how bail works — particularly for low-level, nonviolent offenders — Krasner says it hasn’t yet gone far enough.
“The ideal situation,” he said, “would be to eliminate cash bail entirely.”
No matter the campaign rhetoric, Krasner can’t do that alone. Luckily for him, he won’t have to.